Welcome to the first stop on the May 2013 Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves blog tour! We’re glad to have this opportunity to share our review with you all and hope you’ll come back on May 21st for a word with the author and your chance to own this awesome book.
There are some books that you want to rush through to the end because you need to know how it ends. And then there are books that you want to really sit through and appreciate – even though you really just want to read it through to the end because you’re so desperate to know how it ends. For me, Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves was one of the latter. This was one of those books that was just so fun and engaging that I wanted to take my time and actually let myself enjoy it. It was my ‘getaway’ book during finals. After spending twelve to fourteen hours cramming family law and and writing papers, I was able to curl up with this book for a little while every night. It was great.
What’s sad is that if not for a chance encounter with the book on NetGalley I may never have gotten the chance to read it. Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves is an independent title and the debut title of the author – James Matlack Raney. And unfortunately a lot of the time indie books get overlooked in favor of the newest title from a a major publisher. Which is why I’m glad that I was able to get a copy and share my thoughts with you guys.
At it’s core, the King of Thieves is a book about growing up and coming-of-age. The hero of the story, James Morgan, is a nobleman’s son in Victorian England. While his father was away at sea for five years he was taken care of by his very pretentious aunt and was groomed to be a miniature version of her. The James Morgan we first meet is an ungrateful, spoiled child who demands that his every whim be met and who lords over anyone who may be considered beneath him. But then his world changes in an instant and the father he’s waited so long to be reunited with only really has time to show him how disappointed he is in the way he behaves before he’s taken away from him forever. The rest of his way of life soon follows and James embarks on a journey that will prove once and for all whether or not he can call himself his honorable father’s son.
This journey brings him into a world that he never could have imagined. James – now just Jim – finds himself confronted with gypsy magic, pirates and street thieves as he struggles to survive on the streets of Victorian London. For the first time in his life he learns what it means to have friends and he learns that the life of luxury he knew, the things he wore, and the things he owned may not have been as important as he thought they were then.
There are many things that I appreciated about this book as I read it. One of the things I liked the most was that when you first met Jim Morgan he’s not really a likeable character. So many middle grade and young adult fiction novels try to give you a character you can relate to from the beginning. Raney decides to go another route and introduces you to a spoiled brat who you know – well, you hope – will become so much more. I like that because, let’s be real. Some kids are just self-centered douches. Especially wealthy aristocrats’ kids from the 1800s. (Well, I assume.) Plus it adds some really great character development – not to mention it adds a lot to the circumstances in the story when a character is faced with something unpleasant and approaches it from some sort of overblown sense of entitlement. It can be nice to see those characters knocked down a peg and to see them start to realize what really matters in life.
Another thing that I really liked about this book was that the fact that it’s got a fantasy edge isn’t too obvious and the magic isn’t just thrown at you. It’s subtle. It doesn’t really guide the story so much add to it. Towards the end the magic and lore get a lot more intense but save for a bit of a run in with a gypsy woman, the magic remains pretty low key and unobtrusive. The story is able to build itself up and the characters are allowed to operate within a sort of Dickensian world that we know and recognize. Meanwhile you get a few hints here and there of something more. Just not until it’s absolutely crucial for the story. I’m a sucker for historical stories – and while there are plenty of inaccuracies – the magic isn’t a problem at all. It works really well with the story Raney is telling.
The characters were all pretty great and the little world he built in this past London was well explained and established. I liked the King of Thieves and his court and particularly the Brothers Ratt. They were quite adorable and Lacey, obviously, was a great female character who didn’t let the boy just have their way.
Over all, Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves is just a really good book.
It’s the sort of book that I would love to read to kids someday. It’s that sort of book that you can read with them at night chapter by chapter before bed. I’m not sure I’d put it on par with Harry Potter but it’s definitely very much in the same vein as the original Percy Jackson series and the Septimus Heap series. There are great characters, great action scenes, and there really isn’t any down time or dead space anywhere in the story. It keeps you reading, it keeps you interested, and it keeps you wondering what’s going to happen next.
I highly recommend it and it has earned it’s four star rating.
As always, leave your questions and comments below and if you’ve got the chance, check out this book! And check back on May 21st for your chance to get a copy of your very own. If you can wait that long to read it yourself, of course.
About the Author:
James Matlack Raney grew up all over the world, including Europe, Latin America, and Africa, before winding up in the mysterious land of horses and bluegrass (otherwise known as Kentucky). These days, he calls Southern California home, and spends his time writing adventures…and occasionally living a few of his own.
Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves is currently available via Amazon in paperback and e-book formats.